If there was ever a sign that beauty is truly multifunctional, rose water is it. Roses may make our yards pretty, end tables lavish, and rooms fresh — but they may also help with fatigue, anxiety, dry skin, or congestion.
A few seconds of spritzing, to dress the air or your skin, could change your day.
Rose water isn’t new. Fossils show roses to be 30 million years old and rose water has been around for a casual 14 centuries, originating in Iranian medical and spiritual practices. Traditionally, rose hydrosol was distilled from the Damask rose, but today companies use many different species of roses, including wild rose and cabbage rose.
But before you settle on which rose water mist to buy, learn seven out-of-the-box ways this heavenly product can work for you.
It’s easy to blame cold weather for dry skin, but air conditioners and heaters are also culprits. These devices lower the moisture in the air, causing cells to dry out — hence white, flakey skin. But one 2014 study found that mist is highly effective in hydrating the outermost layer of our skin, especially in the winter months. Add rose and you’ve got the perfect natural remedy.
“Rose absolute improves skin barrier function and reduces transdermal water loss,” says Dominique Caron, founder of Apoterra Skincare. It’s also full of antioxidants and some antibacterial properties. “Since the amount of active components that rose water contains are significantly lower than the absolute or essential oil, rose water will be much gentler on the skin and to your nervous system.”
Besides smelling heavenly, rose water mist has some powerful relaxing effects on our body. One study in 2016 found that inhaling rose water reduced anxiety in patients undergoing medical procedures. This is likely due to the olfactory sensation (or a good old sniff) sending calming signals to the brain.
“For my patients that exhibit anxiety prior to a minimal invasive procedure (it can be somewhat daunting seeing syringes approaching one’s face), I will spritz their changing downs with rose water,” says Robin Hillary, RN.
Next time you’re on edge and can’t seem to relax, wash your face. Many cite their skin care routine as an effective way to calming down, so whether you need 3 steps or 10, remember to add a spritz of rose mist.
How to: Inhale long deep breaths as you give your shirt, hair, and face a spritz.
You’ve probably seen the word toner associated with rose water quite a bit. There’s a good reason. “Our skin is actually acidic with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5,” explains David Pollock, beauty developer for Smashbox, Lancôme, and many more. “However, most skin care products have a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.”
These high pH products throw our skin all out of whack and can make existing skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, acne, and wrinkles worse. But rose water’s naturally low pH of 5.5 helps rest the natural balance. “As a result, rose water helps soothe and calm the skin — reducing skin irritation,” says Pollock.
How to: Spray rose water onto a cotton pad and evenly wipe down skin, morning and night, after cleansing. Cotton pads also act as a gentle exfoliator for softer skin.
Is life in general keeping you wide-awake at night? Integrating a bedtime routine that includes rose water can help big time. “Nighttime rituals promote the production of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, while lowering the stressor, cortisol,” says Elizabeth Trattner, Doctor of Chinese Medicine and AZCIM certified integrative medical practitioner. Nudging the body and hormones in the direction of sleep is important for proper restoration. Yes, beauty sleep is a real thing! Breathing rose water enhances the lulling effects.
“Think of it as a lavender alternative,” says Chris Brantner, certified sleep science coach at Sleep Zoo. Here’s how he explains the relaxing effects: The olfactory nerve connects to our brain, which sends signals to the amygdala and limbic system. This part of our brain controls mood and emotions and is said to be relaxed by certain scents, like rose.
How to: Every night at bedtime, spray a few pumps of rose water on your pillow, bed, feet, or face.
Women from the Victorian era knew a thing or two about self-love and included rose water in all their cosmetics, from soaps to cold creams. Antonia Hall, MA, psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life says they even sprayed their mirror with the scent to celebrate beauty.
“All actions done with intention have power,” she explains. Hall says of her own experience, “Looking in the mirror and saying ‘I love you’ is powerful, but adding the scent [of] rose evokes a stronger sense of love and beauty.” It’s not about ego, it’s a meditative way to view yourself with self-love and compassion.
How to: Spray your mirror with rose water. As you wipe it down, set the intention to view yourself in a more loving way. Repeat daily.
Turns out the romantic hoopla around roses isn’t society’s way of being dramatic. These popular flowers are actually aphrodisiacs and have been used by women throughout history and Colonial America to “keep men interested,” says Amy Reiley, aphrodisiac food expert and author of “Eat Cake Naked.”
If you’re like “hold up, women gave roses to men? That seems a little backwards,” let’s hit the science. Rose water is reported to improve:
Rose water even beat out the placebo in a 2015 study done on males with low libido due to depression. For us ladies, we know rose calms nerves and anxiety, which helps inhibition. Ipso facto, if you want to set the mood, break out the rose water.
How to: Spritz your bed before you and your partner jump in. Or whip up two of Reiley’s Champagne with Rose Water Kiss drinks (which comes from her book on aphrodisiac foods). It’s easy, take 2 to 4 drops of rose water and add 5 oz. Brut-style Champagne or sparkling wine (Cava works exceptionally well). Then enjoy.
Believe it or not, rose water mist has been shown to be just as effective in reducing respiratory congestion as some pharmaceutical drugs. The essential oil relaxes trachea muscles, helping you breathe easier and reduce coughs. This is great news during the winter when colds lurk around just about every corner.
How to: After a steamy shower, spray rosewater on your face and chest while breathing deeply.
Now, instead of buying roses from the local florist, we’re picking up rose water mist for our shelves (and selves). You can also buy rose water and transfer it to an empty, glass spray bottle, curating the content to your skin needs. Or simply choose one of the below cult favorites, from dermatologist-recommended to internet consensus:
- Trader Joe’s Rose Water Facial Toner, $3.99
- Apoterra Rose Hydrating Toner with Hyaluronic Acid + Rooibos, $6-39
- Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe Herbs and Rosewater, $7
- Heritage Store Rosewater Spray, $9.14
- Ecla Rose Water Spray Mist Toner, $12.32
- Valentia Organic Rose Water Toner, $15.98
- Herbivore Botanicals All Natural Rose Hibiscus Mist, $37
- Tammy Fender Bulgarian Rose Water, $65
Side effects?In general, rose water doesn’t have side effects, but manufacturers may add parfum (perfume) to enhance the rose smell, or other ingredients that may irritate sensitive skin. To check your product, look at the ingredients list. The fewer ingredients there are, and the higher the rose extract listed on the bottle, the purer the product.
With all these benefits, it’s no wonder rose water has stood the test of time. One mist is like a cloud of happiness and we can’t get enough. Who knows what the day may hold, but at the very least, there’s rose water to brighten it.
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Larell Scardelli is a freelance wellness writer, florist, skin care blogger, magazine editor, cat lover, and dark chocolate aficionado. She has her RYT-200, studies energy medicine, and loves a good garage sale. Her writing covers everything from indoor gardening to natural beauty remedies and has appeared in Bust, Women’s Health, Prevention, Yoga International, and Rodale’s Organic Life. Catch her silly adventures on Instagram or read more of her work on her website.